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Florida A&M University is an Equal Opportunity/Equal Access University
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When Elizabeth Aires began her first year as a Florida A&M University (FAMU) College of Law evening student, her immediate impression of the law school was the refreshing and familiar look of diversity. “The diversity here reminds me a lot of my experience attending Darnell Cookman Middle School and Stanton College Prep in Jacksonville,” she said.
Aside from the diversity, the College of Law’s Downtown Orlando location allowed Aires to envision ripe possibilities for service. “FAMU is a beautiful school in a perfect location,” she said. “The location of the school in the metropolitan area has provided us with the opportunity to improve and uplift the community around us.”
Aires is a University of Central Florida graduate who majored in Psychology and considers herself to be an open-minded individual. “I wanted to pursue law because I believe laws must constantly be reevaluated and changed in order to keep up with the natural evolution of societal values and humanitarian progress,” Aires said. She sites her mother, a biology professor, as her greatest influence - instilling in her the value that life should always consist of constant learning and reflection.
As Vice Justice of Phi Alpha Delta, and an active member of the Environmental Law Society, Womens Law Caucus, Hispanic American Law Students Association, and American Association for Justice, she manages her law studies and tends to particular needs in her community through meticulous time management.
“Creating a schedule is the best practice, adhering to that schedule is difficult,” Aires said of the challenges of being a law student. She credits her seventh grade history teacher and soccer coach with assisting her with developing lists to sort through various tasks. To this day, when feeling overwhelmed, Aires continues to make the lists in order to put things in perspective.
This perspective allows her the time and inclination to not only maintain balance in her role as a law student, but also to give back. “It is very important to get started giving back to the community as a law student,” stated Aires. “We must always continue to reach out to people who do not have the privilege of personally knowing an advocate in the legal system.”
Community service is not a new concept for Aires who considers it as a huge part of her life. Prior to attending the College of Law, she regularly volunteered with the Ronald McDonald House, a charity that creates and supports programs that directly improve the lives of children. She also worked with the “Get Carded” organization which promotes organ donation awareness; and annually participated with Relay for Life, benefiting the American Cancer Society.
“We must learn how to make time for service early in our careers,” Aires said. “One day we will understand the legal and political system from a unique standpoint, and assist our own families, friends, neighbors, and communities in avoiding unpleasant experiences with those systems.”
For the past two years Aires has volunteered with the Legal Aid Society of the Orange County Bar Association - interviewing new clients and compiling the relevant information relating to their cases. For her active involvement in the Orlando area, theLegal Aid Society awarded her with the Law Student Award of Merit during the summer. The award recognized Aires volunteerism beyond the College of Law’s pro bono requirement. The recognition was also noted in the Orange County Bar Association’s The Briefs July 2011 publication.
Now as a third-year Day student, set to graduate in December 2012, Aires wants her peers and others to appreciate the opportunities a diverse environment can bring. “Be proud of who you are and where you are,” she said. “Get involved in an organization and take on a leadership position. You may never have a similar opportunity to meet and learn from such a diverse group of people.”
What are your favorite books, movies?
What might someone be surprised to know about you?
Is there any particular area of the law you would like to specialize or concentrate in? Why?
How do you balance classes, studying and leading a semi-normal life as a law student? Is there such a balance?
What do you feel has been the greatest invention in the last 150 years? Why?